Oceanside Fire Inpsection Fees
- Category: Local Issues
Oceanside Fire Inspections and Existing Construction
Recently a member alerted us that the City's fire inspection brochure included a sentence that indicated that all bedrooms in apartments need to be equipped with smoke detectors. SDCAA worked with the city inspector to clarify the requirement. Existing buildings built or permitted around or after to 1991, when the California Building Code was updated to require smoke detectors/alarms in each sleeping unit, are required to have smoke detectors in the bedrooms. Existing buildings built prior to 1991 or permitted under the previous building code do not need to have smoke detectors in bedrooms, but are required to have them on the ceiling or wall outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms. For more information about the City of Oceanside's inspection program, click here.
City of Oceanside Re-Inspection Fees
On Wednesday, April 4, the Oceanside City Council voted to impose a fee for the Fire Department to re-inspect hotels, motels, apartments, vacation time shares and condominium complexes of three units or more after they've been found to violate city codes. Councilmembers Wood, Sanchez and Feller voted to approve the fees, and Kern and Felien voted against them.
Effective July 1, 2012, the building inspection fees would apply in cases where inspectors had to return after finding safety violations in an initial inspection.
The fees are $119 for buildings with three to 10 units, $179 for 11 to 30 units and $238 for 31 to 50 units. For buildings with more than 50 units, the fee will be $238 plus $15 for each additional 10 units. Click here for more information.
Elected in June to fulfill the remainder of a term. Chuck Lowery, a landlord, has asked to again reconsider adding fire inspection fees to rental properites in Oceanside. You may recall during its April 21, 2010 meeting, the Oceanside City Council considered a fee schedule to pay for its fire inspection program. The city's annual rental housing fire inspections are currently paid for using existing general funds, but the city's budget shortfall has prompted the city to seek new sources of revenue. The proposed fees are:
- 3-10 units: $119
- 11-30 units: $179
- 31-50 units: $238
- 51+ units: $238 +$15 per each additional unit
The fee schedule was approved on a 3-2 vote with Councilman Jack Feller and Councilman Jerry Kern voting no.
The SDCAA opposed the fees for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the SDCAA demanded that the city reform current unsustainable expenditures before seeking additional revenue from its rental property owners. Specifically, the SDCAA cited an April 8, 2010 memorandum from the City Manager's office stating that a significant portion of the budget shortfall was due to rising personnel costs, and that these expenditures were expected to grow by an average of $2 million per year during the next few years due primarily to employee salary and benefit increases.
Second, the SDCAA pointed out that such fees could have a disparate impact on renters, since rental property owners - and ultimately renters - already pay for these services through property taxes and business license fees. An additional fire inspection fee is essentially asking renters to pay more for shared services.
Third, the fee schedule was not based on any formal, public fee study demonstrating that it is directly proportional to the cost to provide the annual fire inspections. California courts have ruled that fees may be enacted by legislative bodies without a vote of the people so long as the fees are charged to offset the costs to provide regulatory services. Though fire inspections are regulatory in nature, an April 21, 2010 staff report titled, "Establishing a Fee Schedule for Annual Inspections Conducted by the Fire Department" fell far short in demonstrating the actual costs to conduct the inspections.